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Taoiseach: 'No room for energy companies exploiting crisis by hiking up standing charges'

Government is considering the matter ahead of the budget, said Micheál Martin.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Christina Finn reports from New York: 

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said there is no room for energy companies to exploit the current energy crisis by hiking up standing charges for customers. 

Speaking in New York, he said that the Government is considering the matter amid reports that some companies are increasing standing charges by up to €300.

“In relation to standing charges, we will be examining that also. There is no room for energy companies to exploit this situation in any shape or form and I would be concerned by any increase in standing charges in terms of how they would impact on the public.

“There needs to be really clear transparency around all of this and proper explanations and accountability around all of this by the energy companies to the public and to government on this issue,” he said. 

There should be no vagueness around why these charges are being loaded on customers.

Speaking about vulnerable customers, the Taoiseach said “the codes are there and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) have made it very clear that no one should be switched off because of difficulties. Especially those with medical requirements should have no fears about being disconnected at any time during the crisis”.

In terms of the increased revenues that energy companies are receiving because of the crisis, Martin said the Government will take measures in the context of the European framework and a windfall gain.

“The State will procure some of that windfall gain and allocate that back to consumers and households,” he said. 

When asked about increasing food prices and whether the Government would ever consider food stamps or grocery vouchers, the Taoiseach said:

“No, the more general approach will be in terms of providing financial support across different instruments that we have at our disposal.

“An energy credit is one, there will be taxation measures in the budget in terms of reducing the tax burden.”

“Only this week paediatric charges inpatient charges have been abolished, that will save any family with a child going into hospital up to €800 a year,” he added. 

He said the waiving of transport fees for school transport has already saved families €650, adding that the Government will be looking at further areas where it can reduce costs across the board. 

Christina will be reporting from the UN throughout the week. You can follow her updates on Twitter @christinafinn8

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